Clive Armitage (00:09):
I’m here with Matt Preschern, who is the Chief Marketing and Demand Generation Officer at NTT Ltd, for the latest in our periodic Agents of Change video series. Matt, great to see you again. Great to see you doing so well, and thank you for taking part.
Matt Preschern (00:25):
Oh, absolutely. Thank you for having me and here we are in beautiful London.
Clive Armitage (00:29):
I’m going to start just by asking about your title actually, because typically I talk to Chief Marketing Officers or heads of Demand Gen. You’ve got the two things together. Why is that? Is that maybe something that’s suggesting a direction of travel for marketing in the future to be more aligned to demand gen?
Matt Preschern (00:46):
I actually, if I may say so, I take it as a badge of honor, because when I met with our CEO, Abhijit Dubey, who has been with NTT Ltd now a little bit over a year, former very senior partner at McKinsey, I remember our conversations and his basic premise was the buyer’s journey and how people consume technology has changed and it has irrevocably changed. The notion that you just do marketing in that context is potentially not exactly how maybe modern day businesses need to operate. I happen to agree with that, right? To me, if I may, just for one second, what we have witnessed because of COVID is an acceleration of what I call the disintermediation of the front end sales process, right?
Matt Preschern (01:48):
People, buyers, individuals, prospects will continue to consume and buy technology in the B2B space, for sure. How they interact with your company is different because we haven’t been in a face-to-face environment. The belief of some, not of everyone, is marketing is not just a push vehicle for communications. It has to do with buyer’s journeys, interaction models and how do we actually get closer to that? That’s why I call it a badge of honor, because I think you may agree, not every CEO may have that point of view. As a traditional marketer, I find that actually a really nice compliment for us as a function.
Clive Armitage (02:33):
Yeah. I think that actually chimes with there was a recent Harvard Business Review article by a guy called Brent Adamson who talked about that changing nature of the buyer journey. The point he made was today helping B2B buyers isn’t a sales challenge. It’s an information challenge because the buyers are self-selecting in terms of what they’re looking for to help them make their buying decision and it’s marketing’s responsibility to put the information in the right channel at the right time for those buyers to then make their decisions with the information they need. That talks to me about the alignment of sales and marketing being much more around demand generation in a way that you just described, rather than marketing sits here, sales sits here, the funnel and how it’s traditionally worked – that’s gone.
Matt Preschern (03:20):
I’ve had, if I may say so, those debates with my peer group over the years. I have tried for many, many years not to approach my job from a marketing and sales perspective. I think the single most important thing is you have to kind of always think back as to there’s a prospect, there’s a customer. They’re going to interact with you. In a world where we don’t have face-to-face meetings, your prospects and customers are going to interact with your company on their own terms whenever they choose to.
Matt Preschern (03:56):
Chances are that by the time they actually speak to a physical person, a salesperson, they may know as much or more about your company, your products, what you can offer than the actual salesperson does. Now we can have a debate, is this marketing’s role? Is it a sales role or not? Ultimately, as a CMO of a 11 billion dollar company, I personally, and our teams, are being evaluated on the growth of the company, right?
Matt Preschern (04:28):
I think from a mindset perspective, this somewhat artificial separation between marketing and sales, I don’t… Yes, understand we all have to live in functional areas, but how do you help the growth of your company? How do you truly embrace the notion of customer centricity? How do you really think about how can you accelerate or help a sales process? You start there and then eventually you map it into whatever functional areas you want to call it, that’s fine. Right? That’s kind of how I think about that.
Clive Armitage (05:00):
That then leads into you’ve been at NTT for around about a year now, right?
Matt Preschern (05:07):
Clive Armitage (05:07):
How have you organizationally adapted to that vision?
Matt Preschern (05:12):
We’ve put a new marketing operating model in place. We’ve created a number, actually five, centers of excellence that are held or being organized centrally. That does not, by the way, mean it has to be in one geography. You can have a centralized function that can be in any location or it can be multi-location based, but it’s centralized. Then, we have exceptional close alignment to both the regional business leader and the divisional leaders.
Matt Preschern (05:46):
The entire intent is to understand… We just had literally a leadership meeting the last couple days and we probably spent, I’d say, maybe two hours of the agenda questioning ourselves whether or not we were customer centric enough, or whether we have been giving in to the pressures of a company that… No, we have to be marketing first. We have to talk about the success stories and the challenges of our customers. We have to do things in a certain way.
Matt Preschern (06:25):
I think it has a little bit to do with mindset. I also do believe that there’s been an acceleration of either a disconnect between marketing and sales or… And I would actually little bit expand it. It’s not just marketing and sales, it’s product, marketing, sales, and the actual service notion, right? Those functions come together closer and closer in an environment where customers, prospects, they’re going to demand. They’re going to demand excellence. They want to have a great experience.
Clive Armitage (07:05):
As an account-centric marketer serving our customers, I would see the world in exactly the same way. Just as we wrap up, just looking forward, big changes that you see through the rest of 2022 as we hopefully come out of COVID, do you see any particular trends?
Matt Preschern (07:20):
Yeah, I do. On this, I’d like to think of myself as the eternal optimist. I think what we’re going to see is a little bit of the inverse now. I believe that we are going back to a hybrid environment where we will start to meet with… Internally the way we work has already changed, but also how we interact with our customers. I think in that, the real tricky part’s going to be, I think, customers have in some ways learned that you can do a lot of business without face-to-face interactions. Their expectations of that interaction therefore has changed.
Matt Preschern (08:06):
That’s a positive thing, but now when you add the in-person component on top of it, I think the companies who can figure out the hybrid marketing selling customer interaction component versus the either/or are the ones who going to end up doing exceptionally well, which also ties back to the type of products or services that you can offer. I, for one, think it’s going to be fascinating to observe. I also believe that in general as the world hopefully opens up again, I think it’s important for all of us to do that and meet up again and have personal interactions above and beyond sales and marketing just on a very personal level.
Clive Armitage (08:56):
Well, amen to that. I think that’s absolutely right. I look forward to that happening and look forward to us meeting in person again very soon. Matt, thanks for your time. As ever, incredibly fascinating. I know you’re really busy, so it’s great for you to spend time with us today. Thank you. I’m sure people listening to this will find this really useful, so thanks again.
Matt Preschern (09:13):
Great. Clive, thank you so much for having me. Really appreciate it. We’ll see you soon.